Put a ring on it

Thanks so much to everyone who gave their advice on my vegetable garden post the other week. Everyone’s input was really helpful. Also helpful? Being home for a week. It allowed me to spend some time outside and develop my plans.

It also allowed me to change my plans.

The location I’d planned to put the garden just isn’t going to work. See that big wooden thing in the background? Our beautiful barn?

In the shade of the barn

Obviously there’s a large tree too, but the barn is the bigger problem–literally. Because of the barn’s size, it casts a prodigious shadow. Too much of a shadow for a veggie garden, I’m afraid.

So new plan: Matt’s goat ring (aka the longe ring), gets to stay. It’s sunshiney pretty much all day. I’ll build the garden inside the ring.

Longe ring

Bonus: the fence is already in place. I don’t have to drill holes, set posts, or hammer boards.

Quandry: I have to break up the really thick sod somehow. This ring has been growing weeds for years. My father-in-law and mother both think I need to call our farmer for help. I’ve seen his tractors, though, and I’m concerned there’s nothing that will fit inside the ring. Remember, preserving the fence is a key bonus of using this spot.

Weeds

Quandry 2: I’m not quite sure how to arrange a garden that is shaped like a ring. I usually think in terms of grids and boxes and rows. Arcs and pie wedges are hard to work out in my mind. Here’s a preliminary idea.

Plan for a round vegetable garden

I feel like I need to get the ring cleared of grass and weeds so that I can see what I’m working with. It’s 56 feet across. That’s an area of roughly 2,462 square feet. Too big to wrap my head around. I’m not even sure I can fit it on a piece of paper at a scale of 1 foot=1/2 an inch.

Once I get it cleared, staking out the planting beds will be the first step. I have a suspicion that I’m going to have to cut some of the quadrants into slices. But first I need to understand how much space I actually have, what size beds will work and how much I’m going to be able to plant.

I’d still appreciate your advice, though. Any tips for working in the round? How much space do you think I need between beds? What would you plant? How would you lay things out?

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12 thoughts on “Put a ring on it

  1. my parents’ entire backyard looked like that when they moved in. It took my dad the full summer using a scythe to cut down the 5ft weeds, then mow it with the lawnmower, then stake out gardens. You may not get it all done this year. I would suggest getting the weeds cut down as low as you can, then cover the space with giant tarps for a few weeks. That will kill anything growing, and then you can turn it all over into soil (and add some new, good vegetable soil to mix in).

    If you are doing raised beds, and they are deep enough, then you won’t have to wait for it all to die.

    Personally, I see this as a huge project that may take until next year before you can plant much.

    • That’s a good point, Meghan. My original plan had involved multiple years, but I got excited by having the fence already installed and started to think that it might be possible to have it all in one year. But I think you’re right that I’m going to have to be patient.

      Thanks for the tip about the tarp. I had forgotten about that technique–I’ve heard cardboard works too.

      • the good news is, a lot of that could be done now, before it gets really warm. You cut start cutting down the current growth and putting tarps down, before the new weeds start. If you’re building raised bed, you can build them once the weeds are dead. To get a head start, you could start seeds inside and get them growing while you are preparing the beds. I think you could probably get some done this year.

        Another thought, do it in sections. Start small and get 1 bed ready for planting.

  2. I’ve never worked on a round project but it sounds really cool! As for space between beds, are you going to have grass there? or dirt? or mulch? If you are planning on grass between the beds, obviously make sure there is room to get your mower through. If you are using mulch (wood chips) I would put down a layer of weed preventative fabric, then mulch to keep down on weeds. And in that case, it would just need to be wide enough to lay down the fabric, and wide enough for you to plant, weed and harvest!

    • I haven’t gotten that far yet! I was thinking grass might be easy, then I don’t have to worry about weeds coming up through wood chips. The other thought was straw, but I think I’d have the same weed issues. I don’t have a lot of confidence in the preventative fabric. Does it actually work?

      • When I have used it, it had helped tremendously. You are supposed to stake it down along the edges and where you put two pieces together. The only problems I had were where I had not staked it well and the fabric pulled back and all kinds of weed grew up there! But I thought for the most part it did it’s job well.

  3. Sounds like a huge job. But I like your plan. The layout looks like it will be a very pretty space when it is done, and walking the ring will be pleasant. The only suggestion I would have is to either use the farmer’s tractor (even if you had to replace one fence post – better than a whole set) or rent a smaller riding rototiller from home depot. Good luck with it! šŸ™‚

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